ERE Expo Fall ‘09: The next killer recruiting app

Is it social media?
Is it mobile technology?
Is it the telephone? (A return to old school recruiting…)

In his Friday morning presentation to the general session, ERE Recruiting Excellence Award winner Tony Blake, director of recruiting for the kidney care company DaVita, offered a quote from Michael Foster, founder & chairman of the Human Capital Institute:

“The next killer app in recruiting is the recruiter.”

The case study of DaVita also shows that great recruiters thrive under great recruiting leadership (no surprise), and that the “eat what you kill" drive that fuels professions such as of recruiting and sales can be harnessed to create recruiting teams and departments that are a model of corporate management.

Read more about Davita and Tony Blake’s award winning organization here. Side note: Tony is himself a true talent. He inspires trust, he’s demanding, and he’s passionate to the point of choking up on stage when describing the company culture and their impact on patients lives. I bet his people will run through walls for him.

Offering perspectives outside of healthcare recruiting, the “two Steve’s” of Adidas, Steve Bonomo and Steve Fogerty, showed what’s possible for a consumer brand; Wal-Mart’s Mike Grennier provided insight into the corporate recruiting world for the world’s biggest company and retailer.

Here are ideas that resonated with me from the sessions and my conversations at the ERE Expo.

  1. No excuses: A nursing shortage is no excuse for Davita’s clinics to be short staffed. Summarizing Tony Blake, “Of the 2.5 million nurses in the county, I only need 9,000. Let everyone else fight over the rest.” In their work to build a world class employment brand, the Steve’s from Adidas described begging, borrowing, and stealing resources from the marketing department; they have some slick animated videos to show for it! They have a 25-person global recruiting team supporting a company of 38,000. They don’t get their way simply by asking for it. They make it happen, even if they have to run a PR campaign and then ask for forgiveness, having not gotten “permission” from the powers that be.
  2. Recruiting is not HR: I learned that many recruiting departments report to Operations with a dotted-line reporting structure to HR. Hiring the best people in the past has often been best described by Mel Kleiman as “HR’s problem, but Operations pain.” So, a revised alignment seems only logical. Culturally, I also heard several speakers refer to the “victim mentality” of many in HR. Whether a fair portrayal or not, these leaders were clearly distancing themselves from this idea. Related to the “no excuses” idea – recruiting owns the problem and will find a way to get it done. [Note: Todd Raphael has a related article posted from the conference]
  3. Thinking beyond recruitment: This idea encompasses really two thoughts, one internal and one external to a company. Speaking the language of the business and deeply aligning with the business was a common theme. Look outside to books and ideas from the world of branding, sales, and marketing – this was a key means to continuous improvement that also came up often.
  4. Getting help from vendors: As my own professional livelihood is wrapped up supporting the needs and interests of vendors, I paid particular attention to how outside technology and services came up in presentations and discussions. The example of Adidas illustrates this point: They have provided sourcing consulting from Shally Steckerl and Glenn Gutmacher of Arbita Consulting & Education Services (ACES). Also on the sourcing side, Qualigence provides sourcing support for Adidas in North America. Avature’s award winning Recruiting CRM gives their global team the technology platform to do passive candidate recruitment and supports relationship building with outside talent. Entice Labs whiz-bang recruitment advertising technology helped Adidas fill an engineering role in two weeks that previously took many months to fill. Making the first steps in deploying a mobile recruitment strategy, Adidas has contracted with MJob to expose their jobs on mobile platforms. We met two members of the recruitment marketing team at Intel. Intel podcasts open jobs with JobsInPods, an innovative program that’s also less expensive to outsource than deliver internally. Taleo powers DaVita’s applicant process. And Mike Grennier did not name the vendor, but Wal-Mart is embarking on the largest single ATS installation… ever.
  5. Quantitative and analytic skills: Conference chair Kevin Wheeler stresses this point. As a means to align with the business, recruiting leaders and managers must gain the skills in quantitative measurement and analysis. There is no other way forward. All winners of the ERE Excellence Awards demonstrate this capacity.
  6. Inspiring leadership: Here the profession of recruiting is no different than any other segment of business or public or private life. We need our leaders in this world. Badly. Desperately. The best of the profession on display at ERE demonstrated this with stories of turn-arounds and remarkably successes (ex. DaVita was nearly bankrupt nine years ago). They also humbly admit that they’re hardly done, their challenges great, and opportunities to improve real and immediate. What I did not hear was any sense of turf battles, any finger-pointing, and as mentioned, no excuses!

Other show highlights:

Congratulations to the team at You all put on first class show every Spring and Fall.

Full disclosure: we were offered a press past to attend the event, but paid for our travel expenses, flights, meals, etc. (Thanks for the transparency reminder Laurie!)

Update I: Here's an excellent post by Stephanie Lloyd, who also reminds us: "Be sure to check out additional ERE Expo wrap-ups by Sharlyn Lauby, Jason Buss, more by Jason Buss, Jenny DeVaughn, and Sarah White."

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